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5 Lessons All Stay-at-Home Moms Understand

Photograph by Twenty20

I admit it, I freaked out a little in the summer of 2014, when my part-time babysitter told me she needed to quit so she could go back to school full-time. OK, maybe I freaked out a lot.

Those 20 or so hours of babysitting time were how I was able to sustain a full-time writing and editing career. It may not seem like much, since I was essentially home with my kids whenever I wanted, but when I lost those hours I felt like I was losing myself (or at least my writing career). But here I am, 18 months later, and I've not only lived to tell about it, I 've also learned a few valuable things.

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1. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Change sucks, no doubt about it. I'm a creature of habit, and it was a difficult adjustment at first. It's damn hard to be a full-time caregiver day in and day out with no time to schedule a doctor's appointment, much less work. But despite my fears, being home full-time really wasn't so bad. I even enjoyed it most of the time.

2. It's OK to find a new way to do things.

It wasn't ideal, but I made it work. I had to.

Writing has always been a solitary pursuit for me. Part pleasure, part torture and all-consuming, it's something I've always done alone—in a home office, in a coffee shop, in a library. Being home full-time meant I had to grab time whenever I could, which in turn meant learning to write with "Curious George" playing the background. It wasn't ideal, but I made it work. I had to.

3. Asking for help is better than flailing about on my own.

Whether it was asking an editor for an extension, asking my husband to take over kid duty for a few hours so I could make a deadline or asking my older son to push his brother on the swing so I could make a phone call, I learned to ask for what I needed. After a lifetime of proud (some would say stubborn) self-sufficiency, asking for help is a tough lesson. But it's an important one to learn.

4. All good (and bad) things must come to an end.

I admit it, after being home full-time I was a little misty-eyed this fall when both of my babies went off to school. The youngest is only in preschool three days a week while his brother is in kindergarten. I'm still home full-time, but September marked the end of an era. And that makes me both sad about the time I've lost with them and excited about the writing time I've gained. My kids are changing and growing at seemingly lightning-fast speeds, and no matter how rough a certain stage or time period may seem, it's over before I know it. It's bittersweet, this mom life.

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5. I'm still me.

Losing my babysitter and thus my writing time, even if it was only part-time, made me feel like I was losing a huge part of my identity. I know now I didn't lose myself at all. I gained something: new insights into my kids, a stronger connection with them, a deeper understanding of the meaning and fleetingness of time. Yes, I was having panic attacks 18 months ago, but I survived and we all thrived. And I'm still a writer.

If I've learned anything in the past 18 months, it's that everything changes. All I can do is roll with it and enjoy the ride.

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